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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 4 - Light Overcomes Darkness
A - Events From the Arrest to the Burial (John 18:1 - 19:42)
4. The cross and the death of Jesus (John 19:16b-42)

e) Piercing Jesus' side (John 19:31-37)

JOHN 19:31-37
31 Therefore the Jews, because it was the Preparation Day, so that the bodies wouldn’t remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special one), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Therefore the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with him; 33 but when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was already dead, they didn’t break his legs. 34 However one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 He who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, that you may believe. 36 For these things happened, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “A bone of him will not be broken.” 37 Again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they pierced.”

Fanatical about their own Law, the Jews were devoid of humane feelings. The Mosaic statute was that the bodies of those killed be removed by nightfall. So the Jews applied this to the three crucified men. They were loath to look at the ugly scene during their festivities. They asked Pilate to put an end to the three swiftly by breaking their limbs. Crucified men could sometimes survive three days. Nailing hands and feet does not always cause enough blood loss, so the soldiers went on to mutilate the bodies with crushing blows.

The soldiers halted before Jesus seeing that he was already dead. His tender body was weakened by lashes, and his soul in anguish under the weight of our guilt and God’s wrath on the world. Jesus died freely of his own accord to reconcile us to God. Not particularly concerned with religious matters, the Jews were anxious to make sure that Jesus was dead. One of the soldiers took a spear and pierced Christ’s side near his heart. Water and blood gushed out, proving he had died before the sixth hour of Good Friday.

This event tells the Christian that God is victorious from three aspects. First, the Jews were impelled by Satan to attempt the breaking of Christ’s bones that no one might claim that the Crucified was the divine sacrifice. The Passover ritual required that the Lamb be intact with no bones broken (Exodus 12:46). So God preserved His Son even in death, and no one can gainsay his appointment as the Lamb of God.

Secondly, the piercing of Jesus’ side by the soldier finds its proof text in Zechariah 12:10. In Zechariah 11:13, the prophet saw that the people of the Old Testament valued their Shepherd at no more then thirty pieces of silver. Despite this small amount, God will pour the Spirit of grace and prayer on David’s house and the people of Jerusalem, so that their eyes might be opened and recognize who the Crucified One is and the identity of his Father. Without this enlightenment they would not know God or His salvation. The Crucified One is the sole means of obtaining God’s Spirit, as we read, "They will gaze upon him whom they pierced".

Thirdly, the disciple who faithfully remained at the cross was an eye-witness to all that happened and was spoken. He did not flee at the sight of the soldiers and did not leave his Lord after that death. He saw the piercing of Jesus’ side, and testifies to us of the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that we may gain faith in the unity of the Trinity, and eternal life.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, you are Victor over sins, Satan and judgment. You are the living One, King with the Father in the unity of the Spirit.


  1. What do we learn from the fact that Christ’s bones were unbroken?


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